Red Bulls 3, Crew 1
Thierry Henry scored two goals and added an assist to lead the New York Red Bulls to a 3-1 win over the Columbus Crew on Saturday night.
The victory enabled the Red Bulls (14-7-7) to remain unbeaten at home this season (10-0-3) and briefly moved New York into second place in the Eastern Conference. But Chicago beat Montreal 3-1 later Saturday to move back into second place with 50 points - one behind first-place Sporting Kansas City. New York has 49 points.
''The playoffs start now,'' Henry said. ''That's just the way the league us. We can't afford to have a game like this. We didn't start the game well and gave them an early goal. We just have to figure out what the problem is and work it out. When you're down early, you have to work even harder.''
The Red Bulls - the only MLS club to remain undefeated at home - scored twice in the final 12 minutes to secure the win.
New York got the winner in the 79th after Henry had taken a shot that bounced off the crossbar, giving the Red Bulls a corner kick. Henry took the attempt and Dax McCarty leaped over the wall to head it home and past a diving Andy Gruenebaum, who viciously smacked into the goalpost with his face, forcing him to leave the game with facial lacerations.
''He's going to be fine,'' Crew head coach Robert Warzycha said. ''It seems like he's OK. I'm not sure about the goalpost though.''
Henry then capped the scoring with a nifty corner kick in extra time from the left sideline that bent to the left and went past backup goalie Matt Lampson directly into the net.
''I saw (reserve goalkeeper Matt Lampson) was off his line and was out of the goal too much, so I decided to give it a try,'' Henry said.
''It's such a rare play that I don't know if I've seen it before,'' said Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe. ''What can you say? When he's sharp, it's tough to stop him. It's what you want to see from a player like that.''
Milovan Mirosevic opened the scoring in the third minute for Columbus (12-10-6), and Henry tied it six minutes later with his 12th of the season.
''We started the game well, but then we gave up that first goal too quick,'' Warzycha said. ''Getting the first goal was what we wanted then we gave it away.''
The Red Bulls almost scored first in the second minute, when Henry had a great shot that Crew net minder Gruenebaum made a diving save on.
It didn't take long for Columbus to launch a counter attack. Less than a minute after Henry's shot, Crew forward Jairo Arrieta kept the ball for 15 yards then beat Red Bull defender Connor Lade to the right. Arrieta placed the ball through three Red Bulls defenders to Mirosevic, who flicked it off his right heel for his third goal of the season.
The play seemed to catch the Red Bulls by surprise, with New York's defenders standing and looking at each other in disbelief.
The Red Bulls got the equalizer in the ninth minute. Rafa Marquez, who has played in only nine games this season due to an assortment of injuries and suspensions and had been out of action since Aug. 10, made a brilliant play to get the ball to Henry.
Standing behind the midfield stripe, Marquez lifted a 55-yard pass in front to Henry, who settled the ball with his left foot, then pushed it past Gruenebaum.
In the 20th, Henry had a breakaway attempt that slid through the goal crease and Kenny Cooper's rebound attempt was stopped by a diving Gruenebaum.
Seven minutes later, Cooper had a great chance, when he hit a right-footed shot that a diving Gruenebaum deflected wide with his right hand.
In the 34th minute, Marquez was all alone in the box, but his shot sailed over the crossbar.
The match remained tied 1-1 at half.
The Red Bulls had two chances on the same attack in the 58th minute. Lade put the ball in front to a wide open Cooper, but Cooper whiffed on the shot. The ball went across to Henry and he passed it back to McCarty, who unleashed a wicked slicing shot from 40 yards out that Gruenebaum was able to dive and get his left hand on.
''We kept at it and worked hard,'' Henry said. ''That's what we have to do every game. We cannot afford to fall behind against Kansas City and expect to have the same result.''